Jabal Shams, Oman
Snake Gorge Jabal Shams Reviews
Rattling and recoiling down the Snake.... Feb 23, 2010
This is a really challenging hike that will leave you exhilarated and feeling like you’ve sampled Oman up close and personal. I seriously recommend engaging a guide even though there isn’t any technical climbing involved...and retaining a guide doesn't dismiss the need to be fit and able to swim.
Beyond physical requirements, just getting to the trail head is a challenge. Had we attempted this journey solo it likely would have required several additional hours because there’s no way we would have jetted down the last twenty miles at the speeds our guide took. In addition, you need a ride from the end of the trail back up to the trail head, so tackling the trail on your own requires a pair of four wheel drive vehicles.
Once you’ve accommodated all these concerns, there’s still the gorge. Snake earns its name from the twisting descent and NOT from any critters looming about! However, you might be willing to substitute a reptilian challenge after battling all the swerving declines in this treacherous valley, for goodness snakes.
The motivation for a guide is further driven by the need to select the best way down. The first two kilometers of the trail present a continual challenge of choosing which potential slot is easiest to get down. Even though we had Naseeb along, a veteran of Snake, there were several times that we paused to evaluate options for quite awhile. Naseeb articulated how the valley was continually being re-shaped by flash floods and each trip was a unique venture. Naseeb packed along ropes and even though we didn’t use them I would urge you to include that on your list of gear.
We survived all of the critical descents and were enthused for the portion of the trail requiring us to swim through a cave, but a recent flash flood had amassed a miserable coagulation of crap at this choke point. You should never attempt this trip if it is raining (and always be wary that it might be raining unobserved from where you are at the moment) – there won’t be many places to hide should Mother Nature unleash her fury down this wadi! I’m sure the cave is a wonderful portion of the trail, if you are able simply to swim through the cave. The recent flash flood swamped the cave with lumber and battling our way through was not a joyous occasion, unfortunately.
I can attest to the feeling of triumph once you’ve conquered Snake Gorge. This is a splendid expedition that should not be entered into lightly, but holds brilliant rewards by virtue of the incredible scenery and sense of accomplishment once you finish the trek.
Final caution is that when we went (February) it got very chilly since you are in the water a lot and it is mainly in shadows because the gorge is so deep and narrow. Our guide taught us a neat trick however – place your hand on any big, dry boulder if you are shivering and if it is warm just sprawl over the rock and suck out every ounce of heat available.
*** A few closing notes on what to bring along. You will get drenched so only pack along things that are okay to get wet - you'll need a dry bag otherwise. Sneakers are probably best footwear option and it is advisable to bring a towel and change of clothes so you can warm up afterwards. Have a great hike! Also, the premiere pictures from the hike are in the blog entry...check that out to get a better sense of the Snake.
Part of the Oman? Oh, Man! travel blog
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